Android Idol U Debuts at Tokyo Department Store
Media company Dwango, Osaka University’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, and department store chain Parco announced their android idol-raising project on Wednesday. “Androidol” U made her debut public appearance at the Ikebukuro Parco store in Tokyo with a Niconico live streaming broadcast.
U used artificial intelligence to answer questions and speak live during the broadcast. She asked the audience if they were surprised by her, introduced herself as 22 years old, and talked about the cold weather. The typed reactions of viewers of the live stream were displayed during the presentation.
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, who leads Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, discussed the project at the event. He said, “Abruptly releasing a human-like robot into the world is difficult.” Ishiguro hopes that “This will be an interesting experiment to see if people think that things such as consciousness and heart belong to an android that has presence.”
The Intelligent Robotics Laboratory also recently unveiled the humanoid robot Matsukoroid (pictured below) based on the television personality Matsuko Deluxe.
Ikebukuro Parco will use U as a stylish “image girl” and hold promotions with the android. She will serve as information staff at the store and become manager for a day.
Some of Ishiguro’s other androids have already appeared in Japanese stage productions and films as “actresses.” His Geminoid F starred as Leona in the film Sayonara. The researcher brought acclaimed novelist Sōseki Natsume back from the dead as an android instructor at Nishogakusha University last year. Ishiguro’s Kodomoroid and Otonaroid debuted at Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in 2014. The Asiagraph computer graphic art and digital content festival awarded Ishiguro with the Takumi Prize in 2015.